Video games are a massive multibillion-dollar industry. And like any competitive pastime, they’re plagued by cheating. Cheating at games can range from taking a shortcut to bypass a difficult challenge or overtaking your older brother’s high score to intentionally bending the rules of the game to your own advantage. But when done with caution and moderation, cheats can make gaming more fun for everyone.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most iconic game cheats throughout gaming history and discuss how they were used. We’ll also examine some recent controversy around a cheat feature called the “Fortnite aimbot,” which helps players automatically aim and shoot in-game enemies.
Games cheats have been an indelible part of gaming for as long as games have existed. Initially, they were tools developers used to debug titles during testing but later became a popular way for gamers to make the experience more accessible and fun. The latest trend of adding cheats to games, especially multiplayer titles, is designed to take the edge off difficult gameplay by reducing death penalties or boosting health stats.
The use of cheats in gaming is a contentious one that stems from different opinions on what makes a cheat acceptable and what doesn’t. Some games, such as the classic Mario series, have built-in cheats that are triggered with a simple button combination while others rely on third-party programs or hacks to add functionality to the gameplay. Some cheats are designed to give the player an unfair advantage over their opponents while others add fun or humorous cosmetic changes to the game world.
While cheat codes aren’t as common as they once were in the days of cartridge-based consoles (with systems such as the Game Boy and Nintendo 64), they still exist to help gamers get through tough or annoying levels. With the advent of online gaming, players have found new ways to modify the underlying code and memory of games to cheat in a way that’s similar to how sports teams and individuals might alter the integrity of outgoing network traffic for competitive advantages.
In addition to these self-made cheats, the 1980s saw gamers begin to tinker with their own hardware, using basic computer knowledge to manipulate 8-bit computing systems in order to change memory values that stored statistics such as lives, health, and ammo. This was known as POKE cheats and often resulted in wacky in-game changes, such as making your character fly or walk through walls.
Nowadays, most games are designed to be robust against these types of cheats, and the terms of service for most online games forbid the use of unauthorized hacking techniques that could impact other players or the servers on which the games are hosted. But that hasn’t stopped gamers from trying to find ways to cheat, and some have even created hacks that help them compete with players from all over the world. While most gamers would agree that cheating is bad, it’s a bit like counting cards in poker or the Patriots deflating footballs: There’s cheating for harmless fun and then there’s cheating for profit.